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Interviewing Tips to Mitigate Your Weaknesses and Make Your Strengths Shine

August 2, 2009

So you’ve written a great resume, networked and landed your first interview, now it is up to you to get the job. Interviewing can be nerve wracking. What if I say something stupid? What if I can’t answer a question? What if I have lipstick on my teeth? With a these tools you can master your interviews and land that dream job.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses in interviewing. I’m really good in my first interviews and get progressively crappier as I make my way up the chain to the final interviews. I tend to hate to relate the same stories more than one time to people, but I need to get over that. Owning up to your strength and weaknesses will help you learn how to harness them to your best potential.

I’ve been on both sides of the interview both as a potential hire and a hiring manager. In my six years of professional experience I have landed three jobs and hired five employees. Being on both sides is stressful and exciting. As a potential hire it’s all about sharing yourself and experience. As a hiring manager it is all about finding the best person for the job based on personality fit and skills.

Here are my interviewing tips to mitigate my weaknesses and make my strengths shine:
1. Prepare – think about all the questions they could ask you and do some research so you have some information in the “front” of your brain. Write down your answers if that helps you remember how to talk about the big topics with your dream job

2. Google your interviewer – see what info you can find on your interviewer so you feel you know something about them before the meeting

3. Showcase your work – make sure to create a portfolio and practice how you’ll talk about your work. Create a story about each piece of work that speaks to your experience and be specific about your results

4. Say it out loud – go over stories/examples and canned answers as you drive to the interview so you can pull them up quickly and naturally in the interview

5. Walk it off – park further away so you have some time to walk, pump yourself up and burn off energy

6. Be yourself – focus on being yourself during the interview and try not to be somebody else – they want to hire the real you, not some imagined fabrication of yourself. If you are trying to live up to some perfect mental image of yourself, you’ll just let yourself down

7. Positive thinking – envision yourself saying brilliant, funny things that wow your interviewer. Imagine them nodding and leaning in to hear more about your experience. It’s corny but it works!

8. Turn your nervousness into excitement – it’s not that you’re nervous about the interview, as much as you are so freaking excited about this opportunity that you are bursting to share it with that person. Get yourself pumped up that you want this job and that you are perfect for it

9. Always ask for water – drinking water or warm tea will help you talk with more fluidity

10. Acknowledge your excitement in the interview – if you are tripping on your words or shaking because you are so excited to share your skills just tell them “Wow, I am really excited to be here. This opportunity is so perfect for me. I have so much to share with you. Let me slow down a bit.” Your hiring manager will appreciate your honesty and excitement

11. Breathe! – take a lot of deep breaths during the interview

12. Talk to your resume/experience – yes, you have written a great resume but your interviewer probably doesn’t remember what you wrote. Make sure to highlight the best parts of your resume that makes you perfect for the job out loud during your interview

13. Buy yourself time to think – use pausing statements like “that is a great question, let me think about that a moment” and “I do have some experience in that, let me think about my best example” so you can collect my thoughts before answering

14. Smile in-between answers – this makes you look more friendly and keeps your mouth ready to talk again

15. Make them laugh – figure out one story that will make them laugh, making someone laugh help them remember you because it evokes emotion. During my recent unemployment I used a story about how excited I was to be back in the workforce because I missed talking to people all day since my dog didn’t tend to talk back that much. Ha ha, but it addressed my unemployment in a humorous, visual way and emphasized my teamwork abilities.

16. Listen well – listen to their questions and answer them to the best of your ability. Avoid giving them the answers you think they want to hear, it’s dishonest and is suspicious when the hiring manager hears everything they want to hear

17. Be honest – as a young professional, you are not going to have all the skills they are looking for. If you don’t have experience in something just say “I don’t have experience in that but I am interested in adding that skill to my toolbox”

18. It’s the job, not you – if you don’t get the job, it is because it wasn’t perfect for you. Getting a job you like is more about you being perfect for the job, not the other way around. If you ever feel funny about the interview or unsure if the person you met was a good fit consider walking away from the opportunity. If you get rejected it’s because it was not were you were supposed to end up. I believe jobs and people come into your life for a reason. Wait for the right fit and it will be perfect.

Do you have another great tip or story to share? Post them here!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Boruch - Clinical Research Professional permalink
    May 3, 2010 9:35 am

    An excellent article Ms. Crawford, and some excellent advice regarding interview tips relative to strengths and weaknesses. I particularly liked the advice about being yourself. The environment we all live and work in is so important, and is made up of all kinds of individuals with different backgrounds, attitudes and experiences, and I believe that more than anything, this is what comes through in an interview, and that which helps hiring managers decide whether or not a candidate is a good fit. Although your skills and qualifications are obviously important as well, being yourslef and being honest about what skills you do have to offer a potential employer(strengths)and those that you may not currently have, but would like to obtain (weaknesses)is OK, as long as you recognize them, and answer honestly and with conviction. That above all is important. Have fun, be engaged, and you find yourself enjoying the process rather than dreding it. Best of luck to all, who are currently in job search! The best opportunities are are out there waiting for you, go get’em!

    • May 3, 2010 8:46 pm

      What a great comment, Mike! Thanks! Love the “The best opportunities are are out there waiting for you, go get’em!” line!

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